A meeting agenda includes a breakdown of how road projects get funded in Lynnwood. (Lynnwood Transportation Benefit District)

A meeting agenda includes a breakdown of how road projects get funded in Lynnwood. (Lynnwood Transportation Benefit District)

Lynnwood defers a decision on decreasing $40 car tab fees

A taxing district collects about $1.2 million annually. The money goes toward city road projects.

LYNNWOOD — Car tab fees specific to Lynnwood will stay at $40 a while longer.

A small government board tasked with setting the fees again has delayed a decision on whether to reduce the amount. The board opted to defer the decision during its March 21 meeting. Something similar happened in October.

City staff have presented draft ordinances to bring the fee back to $20, or get rid of it altogether, according to meeting minutes.

The revenue must be used for road and transportation projects in Lynnwood. The rate started at $20 in 2010 and was doubled in 2016. The higher rate brings in about $1.2 million a year altogether.

Public Works Director Bill Franz warned that a drop in the fees could jeopardize the city’s ability to keep up with paving. City staff also say many of Lynnwood’s aging sidewalks need attention, and new federal regulations require extensive work on the ramps.

The board that oversees the local tab fees, the Lynnwood Transportation Benefit District, has the same members as the Lynnwood City Council. Two of those folks didn’t make last month’s meeting. The majority of those who did attend decided to fold the discussion into the 2019-2020 budget talks, city spokeswoman Julie Moore said.

The board also has talked about the idea of exemptions for seniors. The city since has received legal advice saying that’s not feasible for the transportation benefit district.

Lynnwood’s car tab fees are in addition to what is charged by the state and Sound Transit. The total fees for a vehicle owner in Lynnwood can run roughly $150-$475.

In November 2016, Lynnwood voters approved a sales tax increase — one-tenth of one percent — to pay for road projects. That measure generates an estimated $2.5 million a year.

City Councilman George Hurst serves as the board’s vice president. He believes the sales tax increase should have replaced the tab fee. “I thought it’d be a good opportunity to give a little bit of relief to the residents of Lynnwood,” he said Monday.

At the current funding level, city staff have developed a spending plan “that meets many but not all of the important infrastructure needs,” according to the October minutes.

“The administration’s recommendation is to hold steady,” the minutes say.

The next transportation benefit district meeting is set for October.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @rikkiking.

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